LTS

Language Teaching Studies Blog Site at the University of Oregon

January 26, 2017
by LTSblog
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LTS Alumni spotlight: Shannon Ball

Shannon in a moment of grammar teaching

Shannon Ball graduated from LTS in 2014 with a focus on teaching English. Her MA Project was titled Teaching Adult Community ESL through Children’s Literature and she now works full time at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. Shannon is an example of someone whose MA Project focus led her directly to a position that allows her to apply what she learned and created.

Where are you working now and what are you teaching?

I work at Lane Community College as an ESL instructor, an ESL Student Services Specialist, and an ESL Assessment Specialist. I love doing all of these jobs, because I get to know ALL of the students in the program, and not just the ones in my classes. I usually teach the low-beginning levels, but am currently teaching Writing and Grammar C, which is the third level of six in our Main Campus IEP. I love every minute of it!

What do you like best about what you do?

Just one thing?! I could really go on and on about what I like best about this job. The reason I got into this work in the first place was that I have a strong desire to contribute meaningfully to my community. The people who come through our program are active members of our community, and the benefits of their enrollment in our program are innumerable. When our students learn, they help other similar members of the community (their friends and family) by teaching them what they have learned and by encouraging them to come to the program as well. They get better jobs, which helps their families and the economy. They are able to participate more fully in the English-based education of their children by communicating better with teachers and engaging and helping with their school work. The effects go on and on. Another thing that I love about teaching to this community is that they come in highly motivated. They are so eager to learn, and to share what they already know with each other. I also love watching the relationships that my students develop. I had a couple of students last year who were different in every way: age (one was 21 and the other 63), culture, country of origin, L1, etc. But they sat together and helped each other in class, studied together after class, and spent time together on weekends, and the most amazing thing is knowing they are using English the whole time because it is their only common language. It’s a truly authentic application of the things they learn in the program, and it motivates them to learn even more!

What is something you learned while in LTS that you use in your teaching (or life) now?

I think the most valuable thing I learned and honed in the program was to connect every aspect of your lessons to a common purpose or objective. Always asking, and encouraging your students to ask, why you are doing a certain activity promotes active learning. Class time seems so limited that you need to plan well and make the most of every minute!

Looking back, what advice would you give to current or future LTS students?

Take every opportunity you possibly can to volunteer, intern, or do a graduate teaching fellowship while you are in school. I know grad school is a very busy time, but this can both valuably inform your coursework and provide authentic hands-on experience. A lot of US schools tend to require a minimum of two years of classroom teaching experience, so it is also good for your resume! My other piece of advice is to make the program work for you. LTS is such a flexible program and really allows for creativity and encourages innovation. If you have an idea, go for it!

November 23, 2016
by gkm
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Student Spotlight: Dan White

10609432_10206962125785413_1985016490970727243_nTell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where have you worked? Any hobbies?

My name is Dan White, and I was born and raised in Portland, OR, USA. I definitely fall under the “nontraditional student” category. Out of high school, I worked random customer service jobs, until, one day I realized I was not living up to my potential. I decided, on a whim, to join the military. I joined the US Army as an ammunition specialist and shipped off to basic training in 2006. The Army had me all over the US as well as spending a year in Korea and nine months in Iraq. I finished my contract with the Army and started school at the University of Oregon in 2010. I received my BA in Linguistics in 2013.

I had applied for the LTS program for the fall of 2013, but I decided to pursue some work experience by heading off to Korea to teach English. This was my second stint in Korea, but my first was spent with the U.S. Army, so I did not really get a chance to fully enjoy my time. The second time, I focused on learning the language and culture and truly experiencing every part of Korea. I made lifelong friends, and started a new hobby that is now a major part of my life: solving Rubik’s Cubes competitively.   I started learning as a way to pass time, but I soon realized that I had an aptitude and passion for these puzzles. I incorporated them into my English classroom, and I used my after-school classes (where the curriculum was entirely up to me) to teach Rubik’s Cubes to my students. I used English to teach them how to solve the puzzle. This has become a vital part of my teaching methodology. I truly believe the best way to learn a language is not to focus on the language itself, but to focus on completing a task that is of particular interest to you. Then you are not learning the language simply to learn it, you are learning an entirely new skill and the language is simply the medium you are using to acquire that skill.

After three years in Korea, I recently came back to the United States in September of 2016, and I started in the LTS program in the Fall of 2016. I am still adapting to living in the United States again, and I am very excited to continue pursuing my education. I love teaching, and I want to do everything I can to become the best language teacher that I can.

You had an internship opportunity to work with students from Saint Gabriel’s College in Bangkok, Thailand. What was that like?

I had a wonderful opportunity to work with a group of high school students from Thailand. I could immediately tell that they were very special. I taught them over the course of two weeks. Rather than focusing on language courses, I taught them cultural courses. I had a lesson on comedy and a lesson on expectations vs. reality. Their trip culminated in a presentation to LTS students in Dr. Trish Pashby’s “Teaching Culture and Literature” class. Prior to the actual presentation, we had a practice presentation. The students did well, but I gave them a lot of feedback. Their English was fine, but they needed to work on their presentation skills. They primarily lacked in smooth transitions from speaker to speaker and visually-appealing slides. The difference between their practice presentations and the presentations given in class was night and day. I was so proud to see the way they took my advice to heart and poured everything they had into their presentations. It was one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had as a teacher.

Talk to us about working with the Fulbright Scholars.

Mixed in among our LTS students in various classes are some amazing minds from across the world. We are lucky enough to share our Literature and Culture class with four Fulbright Scholars. Fulbright Scholars work on special scholarships to study in the United States while also teaching their native language and culture. The four we have are from Kenya, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

I had the opportunity to select some students for a lesson demonstration in my Multiliteracies course. I decided to invite all four of them, although I only needed to demonstrate my lesson for two students. All four showed up, and I taught them a lesson on American comedy. We discussed different comedy styles, I showed them various examples of American comedy. We also analyzed a specific comedy sketch, looking at various elements (camera angles, music changes, language choices) and discussed how they added to the comedic element of the video. Then they attempted to create their own comedic sketch.

The lesson was very challenging, but the Fulbright scholars were more than up for the task. I was very impressed with how patient and receptive they were to my lesson. I think teachers make very good students as they know the challenges that a fellow teacher faces, and I was definitely lucky to have them in my class. I also felt that they benefited a lot from this lesson as comedy is an extremely difficult topic to understand for second-language learners as there are both linguistic and cultural hurdles. Overall it was a great experience with them.

You’re also an intern with CASLS, right? What can you tell us about that?

I am currently working as an intern with the Games2Teach project of the CASLS (Center for Applied Second Language Studies) program. My job is to play commercial video games and assess how they can be used by language teachers to facilitate language learning. I look at both language and cultural aspects of these games that could benefit students. I assess the age appropriateness, language difficulty, and overall genre of the games. This experience has been very rewarding, as my master’s project will be focused on developing a language teaching game template that teachers can adapt to their lessons. I have found many elements from the games that I have tested that I would love to incorporate into my own game.

Last but not least, tell us about the Cubing Club!

The UO Cubing Club did not exist, so I decided to go through the steps to start it. Students need hobbies to pass the time, and cubing is a great one. I love teaching people how to solve the cube. I get to see the excitement on their faces when they are finally able to make the last turn that solves the cube. It is a lot like the joy I get in seeing my language-learning students progress. We also help people who can already solve to transition into competitive solving. They can learn larger cubes (4×4, 5×5, etc), or they can add new tricks to the normal 3×3 (blindfolded solving, one-handed solving, etc). Meeting with the club is a great stress reliever for me. I hope the club continues to grow throughout my time here at UO. If you are interested in joining, look up “UO Cubing Club” on OrgSync!

November 9, 2016
by gkm
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Student Spotlight: George Minchillo

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Tell us about yourself!

My name is George Minchillo and I am from Dallas, Texas. I first became interested in language study during my high school years when I began learning Latin. I college, I took the plunge and decided to make language my career focus, earning a Bachelor’s in French at the University of North Texas. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with a French degree, I took a year to go abroad and teach English as part of the English Program in Korea. I loved the experience so much that I started researching TESOL programs which eventually led me to the LTS program at the University of Oregon! After graduation I’m hoping to return to Korea (or Japan, or China, or anywhere really!) to teach English at the university level. One hobby, embarrassing as it may be, is that I like to collect textbooks. At one point, I had over 200 but decided to let them go as they were too bulky to carry around the globe with me.

Tell us about your internship at Lane Community College in Eugene. What are the Digital Literacy Workshops? 

In today’s digitalized world where almost everything is run by a computer in some fashion, there are still those who have no prior experience using a desktop or smart device in their day-to-day life. The Digital Literacy Workshops are a way to help those students at LCC who may be new to using a computer or who would like improve their digital skill sets. The workshop topics can be flexible, but the participants usually want to learn the basics such as how to use a mouse, how to type, how to open and close programs, and most importantly how to do what they need to for school (online homework, registration, connecting to the school’s Wi-Fi). Most of the students who participate in the workshops are ESL students so it is a multi-tasking of teaching computer skills and language skills. It’s a great, stress-free environment to get your feet wet if you have no prior teaching experience or, even if you do, to try something new and challenging.

You’re a part of Talking with Ducks. Can you tell us more about that?

Talking with Ducks is part of the Language Teaching 537 course ‘Teaching Practice.’ The class is designed to allow novice teachers a chance to (as the title implies) practice their teaching skills while learning about the principles of language teaching in their other classes. Every week the grad student leaders or LT Ducks meet and plan a lesson to implement in the Talking with Ducks class that is an elective for current international students at the American English Institute (or AEI). Topics include things like Travel, Holidays, Etiquette and Customs, and many other cultural items of interest to the AEI students. The discussion-based class is not only fun but gives us a great opportunity to interact with the students, which is important to me as they are the audience I will be working with in my future career goals.

You also work with the American English Institute. What kind of work do you do?

I have 2 different positions with the AEI: Conversation Partner and Activities Lead. As a Conversation Partner, my duties include meeting with students individually two times per week and giving them an opportunity to practice conversation without classwork or needing to share time with classmates. Conversation Partners are also able to participate in Oral Skills classes, where the teachers give specific tasks to help students with, and also at Help Desk, which is a drop-in spot for AEI students to get help on their homework. In addition to these duties as Conversation Partner, I also act as an Activities Lead, which means I drive the students in a van to fun activities or volunteer opportunities and then act as a conversation partner for them during the trip. Examples of activity trips include Portland downtown, Crater Lake, and Lincoln City by the coast. If there are any future LTSers who don’t have a GTF and want a little extra teaching experience outside of class, I highly recommend working with the AEI. It starts off small as a Conversation Partner, but the opportunity to grow and become an integral part of the AEI is a great chance to maximize the time you spend with the students!

What are you most excited to learn or do during your time in the LTS program?

I’m most excited to start working on my own Master’s project. Although at this point in time I’m still a little unsure of which direction I want to take my research, I feel like I have a strong team of professors who are willing to help push me in the right direction. If you’re looking for a program where you have the freedom to develop your own materials and test them out in the classroom, then LTS is definitely for you!

 

October 26, 2016
by gkm
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Student Spotlight: Yan Deng

Student Spotlight: Yan Deng

deng-yan

  • Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What did you do before joining the LTS program? Do you have any hobbies?

My name is Yan Deng and I come from Lanzhou, which is the capital city of northwest China’s Gansu province. The city is not very big, but there are still 2 million people who live there. My favorite food is Lanzhou beef noodles, which is a very famous food in China. Before I came to the U.S.A, I already got my bachelor’s degree at a Chinese university. My major was Chinese Education. I wanted to know about different cultures and to learn different languages, so I decided to study abroad. In 2011, I came to the University of Oregon, and my major was Educational Foundations. In class, I learned a lot about American teaching methods. Outside of class, I tried to learn more about American culture, such as how American students celebrate holidays, how they work on campus, and how they chat with their friends at cafes.

I have been in Eugene for 5 years. Eugene is a small, quiet and beautiful city, and I love living here. While I was an undergraduate student at UO, I volunteered at an American elementary school for two years. I noticed there were a lot of differences between American elementary schools and Chinese elementary schools. I have been a Chinese tutor for one-and-a-half years at UO, and I liked the job so I am still doing it now. I love to encourage American students to know more about China and to learn Chinese. I think we could all learn from each other.

Hobbies? I like swimming and reading. My favorite books are the Harry Potter series. Sometimes I like to watch American TV shows, such as CSI and Criminal Minds. To be honest, I get scared by some of the plots.

  • Tell us about Talking with Ducks. What is that experience like for you?

For me, I like the TWD class because I can learn a lot about teaching. The most important part is how the team members help each other. For example, I was a leader in week 2. I had to make sure my pronunciation was correct, and the rules of my game had to be clear. Since I am an international student, I have to worry about these things. To be honest, I wrote down every sentence of my lesson plan, and I read them to my team members, Devon and George. They helped me to edit my lesson plan. I was so glad they were so patient with me. No one loafs around on the job!

In Thursday’s class, when students came in , we didn’t feel nervous because we were ready. But there were still some situations that I hadn’t thought of before. Thus, we needed to help each other. For example, I didn’t realize students would still sit a big circle after I separated them into different groups. I didn’t know how to solve the problem, but George quickly jumped in and gave more explanation to solve the problem. When students were playing the game, I forgot to explain the game time limit, but Devon was on it. How about the other LTS Ducks? Yes, they all did very well. Sue and Maude were very creative in their groups, letting their group members use the envelopes (which were just materials from my activity) in the game. Joliene, Reeya and Juli built a great and comfortable environment for their group members to practice English. Laura, the professor of the TWD class, made sure everything was going very well. Because of this teamwork, I love the class and I enjoy every minute of it!

  • Tell us about the Chinese Club!

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The Chinese Club is held at the Edison Elementary School, and is one of the after school clubs. In our club, we have 11 students who come from different grades. The goal of the club is to encourage students to learn about Chinese culture as well as some simple Chinese characters. We tried to build a real language environment to help students learn Chinese. Last week, our topic was “daily life in Beijing.” We created some class activities to help students know the real Beijing, such as visiting the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City, and eating Beijing duck.

  • What are you most excited to learn or do in the LTS program?

I am so excited to learn a lot of different teaching methods in LTS program. We discuss issues in class, and we solve problems together. When I am studying in every class, I know I am coming closer step-by-step to my dream. Even though I have a very full schedule, I know my friends and I are always a team. I will be brave and I will keep swimming, just like Dory! Ha ha~

October 12, 2016
by gkm
0 comments

Student Spotlight: Devon Hughes

Student Spotlight: Devon Hughes

devon-duck

Devon Hughes is a member of the 2016-2017 LTS cohort from Dunn, North Carolina. Before joining the MA program, Devon worked at a law firm in New York where she lives with her husband (when not in Eugene, of course). Her teaching experience prior to her move to Oregon includes a 2-year placement in Madrid, Spain where she worked for the Ministry of Education teaching English to elementary school students. Devon graduated from Davidson College in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in English.

  • Tell us about yourself! What do you like to do in your free time?

I spend my free time exploring wherever I am: FaceTiming with my husband back in New York, cooking, playing piano and singing, reading, learning how to weight-lift, and catching up on and writing for Misadventures Magazine, an adventure magazine by and for women. I recently wrote a poem (using what I studied in undergrad!) about adjusting to life in grad school so far away from home and loved ones. Feel free to check it out here.

  • Tell us about Women Teaching Women and future plans you may have.

After being out of school for 5 years and working a few jobs unrelated to TESOL, I started to become restless. I found myself daydreaming about teaching. When I envisioned my “ideal” classroom, I realized it was always the same: women of various language backgrounds learning English together in an engaging, warm, and intellectually stimulating environment. One day, I finally decided to see if such a school, institute, or company already existed where women taught other women English. So, as you do when you have a question, I googled it – “women teaching women English.” The first search result was a free downloadable textbook, created by the University of Oregon’s American English Institute (AEI) for the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with a non-profit in Lebanon whose primary aim is to empower Lebanese women. I appreciated how this non-profit viewed English education as just one of many tools for female empowerment. Months later, as I was narrowing down my graduate school search, I remembered the Women Teaching Women textbook and the University of Oregon, and I decided to apply to the LTS program.

What’s been really great about this program so far is how, almost immediately, I was able to research and write about my area of interest for my classes, connect with the professor who took the lead on the Women Teaching Women textbook project (Dr. Leslie Opp-Beckman), who in turn connected me with the director of the non-profit in Lebanon. I’ve only just begun my time here in Eugene, but I’m already being encouraged by the program faculty to ask questions, make connections, and get involved in the field. I can’t thank them enough for their support!

Short-term, I want to continue working the vision of my “ideal” classroom into the questions I explore in my research papers and the lesson plans I create, and hopefully that will aid me in my Master’s project. I have a hunch that it will be about the possible benefits of women teaching women English and what the opportunities in that specific classroom could be. Long-term, really, who knows? I look forward to seeing what opportunities may arise through my connections with the LTS program and the AEI, be it the chance to work on materials for the non-profit in Lebanon, going abroad to teach women English language learners, or looking into possible classroom models geared toward women here in the states.

  • You’re a GE (Graduate Employee) for the American English Institute 2016-2017 school year. What is that like?

Exhilarating! After being out of the TESOL classroom for 4 years, it’s great to be back and have a classroom full of English language learners! It’s a lot of work balancing teaching every day at the AEI with a full load of Master’s level classes, grading papers, lesson planning, homework. But it’s the work I want to do! I feel like having those years outside of the classroom gave me the energy I needed to dive right back in. Perhaps I’m in over my head, but I’m really thankful for the opportunity to work in the field I’m trying to get back into as a way to finance my education. What’s really cool is how, every day, what I’m covering in my LTS classes can be turned right back around and applied in my AEI Oral Skills class. Some of it is trial and error, but I think that’s necessary for any type of learning.

  • What are you most interested to learn or do in the LTS program?

I’m most excited to learn about how to be a “great” teacher. I’ve always studied my teachers, taking mental note of what makes them great in my opinion, so I’m curious to discover what are those elements for successful teaching, according to the research and practice in the field.

 
Video Blog Update!
We checked in with Devon to see what else she’s learned from participating as a GE for the AEI over the past few terms. Watch here to see how her experience has progressed until now!

 

 

 

 

September 28, 2016
by gkm
2 Comments

Why should you join LTS?

Finished the first week of LT 528 Culture, Language, and Literature!

Finished the first week of LT 528 Culture, Language, and Literature!

Are you thinking about joining the LTS program (or currently looking for a Master’s program dedicated to language education and pedagogy) but aren’t quite sure about your motivations to take the graduate school plunge or wondering what you can expect out of such a program? In order to help prospective students understand what the LTS program is all about we asked current graduate students about their reasons for signing up to be a member of the LTS 2016-2017 cohort!

Why did you join the LTS program?

  • Suparada Eak-in (Thailand): “I am an English teacher in Thailand. I joined the LTS program because I wanted to gain more knowledge and experience about teaching, language and culture.”
  • Anh Duong (Vietnam): “I’m a Vietnamese FLTA. I joined the program because I am an English teacher in my home country, so I believe I will benefit a lot from the program developing my teaching skills and to know more about American education.”
  • Aska Okamoto (Tokyo, Japan): “I did the SLAT program when I was in undergrad and really liked it. I worked at a Japanese Immersion school for one year as an OPT and decided to come back as an LTS student because I want to research more about L2 teaching.”
  • Dan White (Portland, Oregon): “I became interested in language teaching while getting my undergrad in Linguistics. I taught English in Korea for 3 years, and I would like to get my Master’s to become a better language teacher.”
  • Kainat Shaikh (Pakistan): “I am an FLTA teaching the Urdu language at the Yamada Language Center. I am a Fulbright scholar and researcher. I joined LTS to experience American classes and to learn from the experience of the UO faculty. LTS will improve my English teaching methodologies and will bring light upon modern pedagogy.”
  • Iryna Zagoruyko (Ukraine): “I’m very fascinated with teaching after I’ve been teaching Russian for two years at the U of O.”
  • Becky Lawrence (Lafayette, Louisiana): “I originally joined LTS because it was a short program that would allow me to specialize in English teaching. However, I realized that there were many opportunities for me that I’m so grateful for. I got to meet others from many countries around the world, which has expanded my perspective greatly. I also extended my time another year so that I can do an internship in Japan for this term. Basically, the LTS program has everything I ever wanted in an MA program and more!”
  • Ruya Zhao (Beijing, China): “First, I’ve been dreaming of being a language teacher. Second, as an international student (as well as bilingual in English and Chinese), this program offers me many chances to practice and learn pedagogical theories.”
  • Juli Accurso (Ohio): “I joined the LTS program because it was the next ‘academic’ step that blended with my interests in language, linguistics and teaching that I discovered in undergrad!”
  • Sue Yoon (South Korea): “I really enjoyed taking LT courses as an undergraduate student here at UO, so I decided to join the LTS program and learn more about language teaching!”
  • Chris Meierotto (Denver, Colorado): “I felt that the program offered through the University of Oregon was more attractive than other teaching programs because of its focus on application, emphasis on technology, and its fundamental approach as a language teaching program rather than just an English program.”
  • Jiyoon Lee (Seoul, South Korea): “I liked the uniqueness of this program. I want to teach both Korean and English in the future, and this program allows me to focus on multiple languages. It’s great that I can take some elective classes from the EALL department as well.”
  • Yan Deng (China): “There are three reasons. First, when I was little, I wanted to be a language teacher. Second, LTS is a wonderful program and I could learn a lot from it. Third, there are a lot of people who come from different countries. Since I want to make new friends, I love the LTS program.”
  • Heidi Shi (China): “I’m currently a Ph.D student majoring in Chinese linguistics. The LTS program is my concurrent degree and the reason why I wanted to join was because it facilitates my research in Chinese pedagogy.”
  • Lin Zhu (China): “I realize that teaching one’s own native language is not as easy as I thought. So, the LTS program is really helpful for me to be a good language teacher.”
  • George Minchillo (Dallas, Texas): “After graduating from my undergraduate studies, I wanted to take some time to travel. When the English Program in Korea offered me the opportunity to travel and work at the same time teaching English, I couldn’t resist. After a year teaching in Korea, I decided to pursue a graduate program that would allow me to continue on this career path and the LTS program promised just that. I’ve seen the success of former students and couldn’t wait to join the cohort!”
  • Adam Li (China): “I was eager to learn more techniques in LTS and it’s also easy to get a concurrent degree with my EALL program.”
  • Valeria Ochoa (Las Vegas, Nevada): “I joined the LTS program to help others learn language efficiently and comfortably as well as to better understand how language acquisition works. I also want to be an awesome, well-prepared teacher.”
  • Irena Njenga (Kenya): “I want to learn how to integrate language and culture.”
  • Joliene Adams (Portland, Oregon): “I joined LTS because it’s more than your average TESOL program, because of a diversity of language teaching and potential languages one could teach that are offered within, and because of the job placement rate and satisfaction I found when researching graduates!”
  • Kunie Kellem (Japan): “I would like to learn the practical methodology for teaching students in Japan.”
  • Krystal Lyau (Taiwan): “I would like to become a language teacher, and help my students learn a second language without suffering.”
  • Devon Hughes (Dunn, North Carolina): “I joined the LTS program because it offered, on paper, the same courses as a M.A. in Education TESOL, with the added benefits of being housed in the linguistics department and the partnership with the AEI. I knew, with both of these aspects, I would be able to have a solid, theoretical linguistic foundation on which to build a career of application and practice in the TESOL classroom. The opportunity to be the AEI GE also made this program stand out from the rest. It’s rare to receive funding in the social sciences at the Master’s level. I’m thrilled to have work in the exact type of classroom I want to be in after graduation.”

Are you currently an undergraduate student who may be interested in joining the LTS program in the future? Or are you perhaps a graduate student who is interested in becoming a language teacher but are not sure another Master’s degree is what you’re looking for? We also asked students pursuing the Linguistics department’s SLAT certification (and taking classes together with the LTS cohort) about their interest in language teaching!

Why did you pursue the SLAT certification?

  • Maude Molesworth (San Francisco, California): “I joined the SLAT program because I am interested in teaching, and possibly teaching English abroad after I graduate.”
  • Jeremy Morse (Eugene, Oregon): “I think the knowledge and experience I can gain from the SLAT classes prepare me perfectly for what I want to do next: teaching English abroad.”
  • Teal Henshen (Springfield, Oregon): “I joined the SLAT program because I love languages and want to travel to teach.”
  • Russell Morgan (Los Angeles, California): “As a linguistics major it seemed like a good option to get a certificate while completing my upper division credits. I’d like to go overseas to teach and maybe come back for a Master’s.”

April 13, 2016
by LTSblog
0 comments

LTS Faculty Spotlight: Andy Halvorsen

Tiffany Andy Brenda in Gabon 2016

Andy in the new English Language Center in Libreville, Gabon, with Brenda and LTS alum Tiffany VanPelt.

How are you associated with LTS?

I’m a faculty member of the American English Institute, and I’ve been teaching in LTS for 2 years. I generally teach LT 436/536 in Spring (the Language Teaching Planning course). I’ve also served as an advisor on the final projects of LTS graduate students.

What else do you do in your work and teaching?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work in the Innovative Programming unit of the AEI. I’ve worked on the development and design of our upcoming MOOC for English language teachers, and I’ve also just completed an online webinar through American English that talks about how to get the most out of your online teaching and learning experience. I’ve enjoyed being involved with educational technology here at the University of Oregon because it relates to my research interests in social media and how platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to enhance language learning opportunities in a number of diverse ways.

I’ve also recently been involved in our partnership with the Gabon Oregon Center and I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Gabon to deliver a scientific writing workshop to university faculty there.

Where were you teaching before you came to Oregon?

Before coming to the UO, I spent two years in Thailand as an English Language Fellow (ELF) with the US State Department. While in Thailand, I primarily did teacher training work, and I also had the opportunity to teach a weekly English course to high-schools students which was broadcast on television.

What do you think are some of the best perks of being a language teacher and teacher educator?

For me, the biggest perk about this type of work is the people you get to interact with on a regular basis. I’ve met and worked with teachers and students from all over the world, and I’ve broadened my understanding of education significantly. My recent trip to Gabon is a good example. I’d never had the chance to visit West Africa before, but the experience was amazing. I felt like I was able to improve the writing skills of the workshop participants, but, as often happens when I travel for work, I honestly felt like I took as much if not more away from the experience as the participants did!

What is something you’ve learned from your students or teachers-in-training?

video response:

January 14, 2016
by Annelise Marshall
0 comments

Student Spotlight: Maggie Mitteis

a784f725-77df-4e78-9f30-66fe2417a615Maggie Mitteis is famous in her hometown of Ashton, Nebraska, just like the other 231 people who live there. She has taught University in Poland, coordinated a refugee literacy program in Lincoln, Nebraska, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. She likes to think her Ukrainian language skills are superb, but her host grandma has assured her they’re really “getting terrible”.

Why did you choose to enter the LTS program?
Finding UO’s LTS program was sort of a happy coincidence. I was living in Eugene and working at the UO Testing Office when I discovered the program. I immediately set up a meeting with Keli Yerian. I was extremely impressed the program’s multifaceted approach to teacher training and intrigued by all the available hand-on experience. Coupled with the opportunity to teach an advanced English course in an American university setting (something I had never done before), saying “YES!” to LTS was a no-brainer.
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What is your GTF context?
Right now, I’m teaching Oral Skills 6 in the Intensive English program. The course focuses on fine-tuning  listening and speaking skills that will help students succeed when they matriculate into the university, so we do a lot of work with note-taking, impromptu speaking, and asking follow-up questions. It’s the same course that I taught in the fall, so I’m excited to teach it again. Now that I have more of a grasp on how the course is structured, I can really work on tailoring it to fit the students’ needs. Plus, my cohort friends shared a lot of teaching ideas that I want to try incorporating.
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What is the most challenging part of your GTF?
Honestly, the amount of structure I am given in the IEP still takes me slightly aback. My pervious teaching situations–especially my Peace Corps years–were dominated by creating materials based on very general instructions or topic ideas. These materials were usually made of construction paper, and often, created the night before class. It took me awhile to become accustomed to being given a detailed, week-long lesson plan over a week in advance. It’s been great to have a teaching experience that requires a different kind of discipline, and it’s really made me grow as a professional.
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What is most rewarding about your GTF? 
I really enjoy the students in OS6. They’re motivated, they’re fun, and they’re not afraid to try new activities. The class is structured in a way that really allows them to grow in confidence and autonomy. And now, I see my students from the previous term around campus, and they’re so excited to be university students.
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What are you most looking forward to in your remaining time in the program?
Right now, I’m excited for Winter Term. My OS6 section is a great size and the group dynamic is building quite nicely. My class schedule is a mix of linguistic theory, curriculum development, and Eastern European history, so everyday feels genuinely interdisciplinary. And, the LTS cohort is coordinating a weekly jogging/running group. All the things I like are happening with a great group of people!

 

January 12, 2016
by megt
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MA Project Spotlight Rich Houle

Rich Houle blog photo

Rich Houle just graduated from the LTS Program in December 2015. His capstone MA project was “Agency and Autonomy In English Academic Vocabulary Learning: A Student Centered Teaching Portfolio”.

What is your MA project?

My project is a teaching portfolio of activities to support learning the English Academic Word List. The emphasis of the portfolio is vocabulary learning, rather than vocabulary teaching, through strategy instruction and incorporating newer computer technologies such as vocabulary profiling, concordancing, and wikis.

Why did you choose this topic?

After a slight gap (24 years) between my graduate and undergraduate career, I started taking classes in the LTS program part time as a non-matriculating student.  The first class I took in the program was English Grammar, where I developed an interest in vocabulary  due to my attempts to read the notices in French posted in the hall outside the classroom. It seemed to me that meaning was primarily embedded and carried by words, and then shaped by morphology and syntax. In the Language Teaching Methods class I chose vocabulary acquisition as topic for the research paper, and I discovered a whole world I never knew existed! When I started the LTS program as a full time student I wanted to choose a topic that would use the research I had already done (having no wish to do much more work than I had to) as well as reflect the experiences I would have as a student in the program.

What advice would you give to new LTS students about their MA projects?

By the time you have completed your second term you will have (hopefully!) completed a research paper and a project or two.  Mine these for ideas for a project.  That way you will have some concept for a topic by the end of fall term, and you don’t have to research a whole new area from scratch.  You want to do as much reading as possible by the time Spring term starts. Also talk to your professors: they are very nice and they schedule time in their week just for this purpose.  As soon as you have a committee, schedule time with them.  They are there for you. Lastly I will quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a project from my cohort): DON’T PANIC.

December 1, 2015
by Misaki Kato
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Alumni Spotlight: Marcella Roberts

Marcella with her students in Switzerland.

Marcella with her students in Switzerland.

Marcella Roberts graduated from LTS in 2010. Her MA Project was titled: Pronunciation for Integrated Skills English Courses: A Teaching Portfolio. Below, she shares how she has used things that she learned in LTS in many different teaching contexts.

Where did you teach after graduating from the LTS MA program, and where are you now?

Since graduating, I’ve taught both in the U.S. and abroad in Switzerland and China. Immediately after finishing the LTS program in August 2010, I taught at the American English Institute (at the U of O) for one year. After that I moved to Switzerland, where I taught on and off for three years at a residential summer camp for children aged 10-17 from many countries all over the world. I also taught for one semester at Arizona State University (between summers in Switzerland), and then taught at a university in China for 8 months in 2014. As of September 2014, I’ve been teaching in the INTO Intensive English Program at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR.

Is there anything you use in your teaching now that you first learned in LTS? 

Definitely. The focus on Communicative Language Teaching, as well as all the practice developing curriculum and materials, has continued to help me throughout my career as a teacher. When I was teaching in Switzerland, I was given a class of students and pretty much no guidance on what to teach except for an estimate of their level. I therefore had to draw on all of my practice and knowledge learned in LTS with needs analyses, adapting, creating and using materials, as well as ways to make language learning authentic, communicative and fun for students. Throughout the rest of my teaching experience, which has been in university programs, where more guidance, materials and textbooks have usually been provided, the basic language acquisition and teaching principles that I encountered in the LTS program have still been invaluable.

What was your MA project about, and did you apply it later in your teaching?

My MA project focused on pronunciation, and specifically how to integrate it into classes focused on other skills (or on integrated skills). To do the project, I had to really delve into pronunciation and learn about it in depth, which has definitely helped me in my teaching experience since graduating. While teaching in Switzerland, I often did pronunciation focused lessons, as well as integrated it into other content and skill focused lessons. During the time I was teaching in China, I developed a four week mini course on pronunciation for university students, which included a focus on the International Phonetic Alphabet and in depth practice of segmentals and suprasegmentals. Since having started teaching at INTO OSU, I’ve also taught specific pronunciation elective courses, during which I’ve drawn on, and added to, the experience and knowledge I gained while doing my MA project all those years ago.

What was most challenging for you as a new teacher?

It was challenging at first to have the confidence in myself as a teacher to be able to adapt my original lesson plans to what was happening in the classroom. Through experience, I’ve learned that sometimes going with the flow, adapting activity lengths, and responding to questions or issues as they arise can be more beneficial than rigidly sticking with a lesson plan even when it’s not working. But this definitely took time for me to realize, as well as time to understand how to do it in a way that helps students and keeps everyone focused and learning.

Marcella with some of her cohort at graduation in August 2010. She is the one in the middle top of the photo.

Marcella with some of her cohort at graduation in August 2010. She is the one in the middle top of the photo.

What advice do you have for students looking for language teaching positions after graduation?

Use your time in the LTS program to learn and share with such a wonderfully diverse group of students from all over the world. Many of the language teaching positions (especially in teaching English) are in countries all over the world and knowing something about countries other than your own, as well as being willing to travel and/or live abroad, will be valuable assets in finding rewarding teaching positions.

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